How Does a Sports Physical Differ From an Annual Physical?

How Does a Sports Physical Differ From an Annual Physical?

Regular medical check-ups are important for every aspect of your health. The reason you see your eye doctor and dentist every year is to monitor your vision and oral health and detect any problems early so you can treat them before they progress into a serious condition.

The same is true for annual physicals. Even when you feel fine, an annual exam can identify the beginnings of conditions before symptoms appear. So, if your child gets an annual exam, do they also need a sports physical before participating in athletics? 

Yes. There’s a difference between the traditional annual physical and the sports physical, and both are important to your child’s health and safety. 

Here, Dr. Venkata Vallury and Dr. Visalakshi Vallury at Redwood Family Health Center explain the differences between these two critical exams. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment for yourself or your child, we have two locations to serve you in McKinney and Farmers Ranch, Texas.

The annual physical

Annual physicals do much more than check your child’s vital signs. During this appointment, we take a closer look at everything that affects your child’s developmental, social, and emotional health. 

We start by going over your family’s medical history to identify any possible risks and begin preventive measures if necessary. 

Next, we make note of your child’s developmental milestones, including cognitive and social markers that give us important information about their development. 

Depending on their age, we may also talk with them about drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, and changes to expect during puberty. Yearly exams that cover these topics and physical issues also give us a baseline we can use to compare future measurements and identify changes or patterns that may be relevant to your child’s health.

And annual physical exams aren’t just for kids. Your whole family should take advantage of the benefits gained by monitoring your health on a regular basis throughout your life. Although we tweak some aspects of the annual physical according to age and gender, most include:

If you’re in a high-risk category for certain diseases, we may recommend screens for conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart health, or sexually transmitted infections, to name a few.

The sports physical

The goal of a sports physical, also known as the preparticipation physical examination (PPE), is to ensure your child is healthy enough to participate in athletics. Most states, schools, and sports organizations require the PPE before allowing players to participate.

During this exam, we focus on any aspect of your child’s physical health that would prevent them from engaging in their sport safely. To determine this, we review their health history and pay special attention to any past injuries to make sure they have healed properly and completely.

We also assess your child’s fitness level and look for any conditions or abnormalities that may put them at risk during sports activities. During a sports physical, we check:

Most kids are cleared to play right away, but if we detect a concerning issue, such as a heart murmur, hernia, uncontrolled asthma, or a concussion, your child will have to postpone athletics until the problem is resolved. 

While this may feel frustrating at first, rest assured that it is actually a fortunate outcome because playing sports with unknown conditions like these can put them in serious danger.

To schedule a sports physical or annual physical for your child or yourself, call either of our two Texas offices or request an appointment using our online booking tool. 

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